FILMSTUDY: 2013 Offensive Line Analysis

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It was a forgettable year for the Ravens’ offensive line. Let’s remember it, so we’ll know a good OL when we see one again.

This year, I have added a scoring graph for each player. These graphs offer a visual representation of play consistency and break down the player’s performance into raw score (purple) and a subjective adjustment (red) I make before assigning a grade. This adjustment is for other elements not captured by the scoring system, primarily quality of competition above the replacement level.

Of note are the different grading scales by position which is the reason for the difference in the grade lines in the charts.

Each player has 3 grades:

  • The Play grade is a representation of how well he played vs. his positional peers last season.  It is not a representation of value relative to salary or tenure in the league.
  • The Value grade is a representation of the player’s contribution relative to cap expenditure.  Star mid-career  players (after signing their first FA contract), will rarely be graded an A in this category since they are typically paid the market price for their services.  It’s not a slap in the face to be graded a C here, but the best front offices will have many more As and Bs than Ds and Fs because they consistently uncover value in the draft and sign bargain free agents.  A player who does not miss time due to injury, but otherwise performs exactly as might be expected by his contract would be graded a B-.  Where appropriate, this grade includes consideration for their contributions on special teams.
  • The Developmental grade is an indication of how much the player improved relative to expectation as well as a measure of future expectations.  The primary reason to expect growth (or decline) is age, but injuries (particularly changes to prospective durability), leadership, position changes, etc. were all lumped in this category.  Even a 35-year-old gets a developmental grade.

Snap totals and percentages include only non-penalty snaps which were played competitively (excludes kneels and spikes) for all games unless noted otherwise.  The 2013 Ravens had 1,080 such offensive snaps as a unit in 16 games.

I did not complete a box for Reid.  He played just 20 snaps and may be part of the discussion at RT next season, but I don’t have anything to say about his 2013 season.

Individual Player Comments

Gino Gradkowski

2013 Role:  Starting Center (1,080 snaps, 100%).  Despite the fact that opposing teams consistently ran pressure schemes at Gradkowski, he allowed just 3.5 sacks in 16 games.  Last year, the aging Birk allowed a similar 4.33 in 20 games.  The primary difference was pressures.  Birk in 2012 allowed 13.25 (0.7 per game) as opposed to Gradkowski in 2013, who allowed 35 (2.2 per game).

What was there to like about his season?  Durability.  He played every snap of the season.  In addition, despite being under constant fire, he played a little better as the season unfolded.

When did he play best?  His best game was at Chicago where he allowed just 1 pressure, ½ a penetration, and missed a season-low 2 blocks for an unadjusted score of .91 (B+).  Even that effort came with a botched shotgun snap (Q4, 0:11) which may have cost the Ravens the game.

When did he play poorly?  He was atrocious in the losses to Green Bay and Pittsburgh, but the game at Buffalo is the worst I have ever scored for a center (.49).  He had season highs in pressures (4.5), QHs (2) and sacks (1) in that game.

What was his signature play of 2013?  It’s not one play, but the phrase “66 bulled by (opponent #)” appeared on my scoresheets 29 times in 2013 associated with negative pass rush events.  Those are just the 1-on-1 losses most indicative of an undersized center.  

What does he need to do better?  I don’t honestly see another chance for Gino, but if he is ever to play again, he’ll need to be bigger and stronger.

Grades:  Play F, Value F, Developmental F.  I saw Ross Tucker quoted as saying Gino’s play had improved towards the end of the season.  While I would agree there is an uptrend due to elimination of some technical mistakes, he remains overmatched by this league.

 

Bryant McKinnie

2013 Role:  Starting Left Tackle the first 5 games (348 snaps, 32%).

What was there to like about his season?  I’m thinking.  How about this…he didn’t make the Ravens wait until the offseason to address their chronic need at LT when it would have been much more difficult to do so.

When did he play best?  He was OK in the opener against the Broncos.

When did he play poorly?  His lowest score was the Houston game (.47) when he had a pair of facemask penalties, but I think he played worse versus Cleveland (.53) when he was party to 2 penetrations and 4 pass-rush events including a sack by Berkevious Mingo (Q1, 12:19) where he looked very slow.

What was his signature play of 2013?  I’m torn between the reported “Ogle and Dash” which led to the suit for $375,000 in unpaid strip-club bills.  He also failed to block Sweet Pea who went unflagged for a hit to the head of a defenseless receiver (Jacoby Jones) with a champagne bottle.

What does he need to do better?  He’s the Dolphins’ problem now, but the fundamental problem is that McKinnie is the football equivalent of Earl Williams.  He says he wants to try and might for a brief time, but then falls back into his old habits with sloppy footwork and indifferent run blocking, particularly on the back side.  Some of you remember Earl Williams’ tenure in Baltimore (1973-74) under Earl Weaver.  Weaver was effective at dealing with malcontents by ignoring the noise and managing by results.  However, his descriptions of Williams’ behavior in his book “It’s what You Learn After You Know it all that Counts” are priceless.

Grades:  Play D, Value D-, Developmental D.  The inexpensive LT who finally put it together this season was King Dunlap of the Chargers.  He signed a 2-year deal for a little less than $4 million and played very well, particularly down the stretch.  Imagine how much better the Ravens’ cap situation would be if they had they signed him.

 

Eugene Monroe

2013 Role:  Starting LT for the final 11 games (732 snaps, 68%).  Monroe came to the Ravens after 4 weeks with the Jaguars, sat out a week to learn the system, and was activated for week 6 versus Green Bay.

What was there to like about his season?  He was the Ravens’ best lineman and best offensive player in 11 games.  Specifically, I like his effort on the back side of run plays.  That shows up most in the missed block numbers.  Monroe didn’t have more than 5 in any game with the Ravens.  Relative to the other tackles:

When did he play best?  Eugene played his best games against Pittsburgh in week 7 (.93) and Cleveland in week 9 (.91) separated by the bye.

When did he play poorly?  Monroe may have been available in part due to a horrific effort (.29) versus the Raiders and Lamarr Houston in week 2 while with the Jaguars.  He allowed a penetration, 2 pressures, 3.5 QHs, 1.5 sacks, and was called for holding.  In short, Houston used him like a sock puppet.  It was every bit as bad as Cousins’ performance at Pittsburgh in 2009.  With the Ravens, he didn’t have any truly awful games (an accomplishment for a left tackle where scores vary greatly), but he was overmatched by Julius Peppers at Chicago (.59).

What was his signature move in 2013?  I like his ability to bait blind-side pass rushers out of position on running plays by setting up as a pass blocker.

What does he need to do better?  He’s a fine technician who makes up for a lack of ideal LT size with leverage, quickness, and effort.  An area of weakness in 2013 was his ability to negotiate stunts with Shipley.  He hasn’t played with even an average LG for some time, but stunts are an area where he and Osemele will need to develop a good working relationship.

Grades:  Play B+, Value B+, Developmental B.  At age 26, he appeared headed for a setback year after 4 games in Jacksonville, but he played well for the Ravens and he probably ranks between the 6th and 10th best LTs in the NFL.  He’ll earn a good payday, but if another team is willing to make him one of the highest-paid linemen in the game, the Ravens need to let him go.

 

Michael Oher

2013 Role:  Starting RT (1,025 snaps, 95%).  Oher did not play any LT in 2013.  He started well and was the team’s most consistent lineman through the first 6 weeks (.76).  His play then regressed significantly coincident with the arrival of Monroe (.66 from week 7 on).  During that time his stock went from “probably can’t afford him” to “shouldn’t try to re-sign him”.

What was there to like about his season?  He has been an iron man since he was drafted and played wherever the Ravens have asked.  He also reduced his penalties to just 6 and fell to the 2nd-most-penalized player in the league (48 penalties, Doug Free 49) since joining the NFL in 2009.

When did he play best?  His best game came against Green Bay in week 6.  The Packers schemed for pressure that game and set the standard for exploitation of the Ravens’ interior line.  Meanwhile, Michael held up well (.87) versus an assortment of pass rushers that did not include Clay Matthews (primarily Neal, Daniels, Mulumba, and Jolly).

When did he play poorly?  He appeared to be walking in a fog for most of the 2nd half.  He didn’t make much effort on the back side of run blocks and allowed a substantial amount of pressure.

What is he doing right?  Oher has kept himself in good shape and avoided major injury for 5 seasons despite a willingness to go to the ground for cut blocks.

What does he need to do better?  I don’t think this has changed since last year, so I’ll just repeat it.  He needs to rediscover the block-to-the-whistle physicality which made him an effective RT in his rookie year.

Grades:  Play D+, Value D, Developmental D.  Oher is the one lineman who can’t claim the player next to him is causing difficulties.  In fact, Oher played well when Yanda was still recovering from his injury and declined as Yanda reestablished his consistency.   His raw scores don’t capture the full impact of his poor run blocking.  PFF ranks him as the worst run blocker of all tackles and I have set his seasonal play and value grades to reflect my subjective opinion.  It will be difficult to construct a cap-responsible contract for a player who is not much above the replacement level.

 

Kelechi Osemele

2013 Role:  Starting LG for the first 7 games (403 snaps, 37%).  Osemele turned in 2 dominant games in the 2012 postseason, including a road grading of the Colts in the Wild Card round and domination of Justin Smith in SB XLVII.  Most Ravens fans hoped he would play at that level for 2013, but it was immediately apparent that something was wrong.  He struggled with a herniated disc in his back until he was shut down for the season at the bye.

What was there to like about his season?  It was a lost year by a young player.  I can’t pick out anything that I like about it other than he had the courage to play through the pain as long as he did.

When did he play best?  He played well (.84) in the week-7 game at Pittsburgh, his last before being placed on IR.

When did he play poorly?  He allowed parts of 2 QHs in just 6 plays against Miami before he left with the injury.  His scores were consistently in the .70s otherwise, which is below average for a guard.

What was the matchup he most dominated?  He was effective versus Heyward and Keisel in week 7.

What does he need to do better?  Get healthy.  Everything else should fall into place if he can train and regain his strength and shape for 2014.

Grades:  Play D, Value C, Developmental F.  Kelechi had about as big a setback as you can take from his fine rookie season.  The back injury puts his career in question.  On the other hand, it is an explanation for his poor play.  The best excuses are credible and temporary/addressable.  Like all Ravens fans, I hope he’ll recover fully and expect he’ll play well again when healthy.

 

AQ Shipley

2013 Role:  Starting LG for the final 9 weeks (667 snaps, 62%).  Included in his snap count is his relief of Osemele versus the Dolphins.

What was there to like about his season?  He kept trying.  The tenacity may result in another opportunity somewhere or translate to success outside of football.

When did he play best?  He held his own against Minnesota in the snow (.84).  The Vikings have a reasonably talented interior line, but I think that game probably needs to be discounted for most extreme individual performances.

When did he play poorly?  He had 4 very poor games, but the worst of those as I have it scored was week 10 versus the Bengals in Baltimore.  In that game he allowed 1.33 sacks, 4 pressures (3 full + 2 x .5), committed a false start, and missed 7 other blocks (.46).

What was the matchup he most dominated?  He didn’t have a truly dominant game.

What does he need to do better?  He did not get a shot at center in 2013, but he may well have been more effective there than Gradkowski.  Shipley played well down the stretch at center for the 2012 Colts as a rookie.  He has size and length problems at guard that could be deemphasized as a center.  That said, he has a lot of trouble with stunts and once the league figured that out, he got a steady diet.

Grades:  Play F, Value F, Developmental F.  Shipley played just below the replacement level in 2013.  As such, I can’t ascribe anything higher as a value grade even though he had one of the lowest salaries on the team.  His best shot might be to compete with a veteran for the center job, but if he doesn’t win it in camp, I’d expect he’ll be cut in 2014.

 

Rick Wagner

2013 Role:  Backup RT who replaced Oher for 55 snaps in the opener at Denver.  Wagner also had 68 snaps in jumbo formations (total 123 snaps, 11%).  Snap totals exclude plays where he was used as a receiver.

What was there to like about his season?  He did a good job of bullying smaller players on the outside of short-yardage formations.

When did he play best?  He was effective in the jumbo role, converting 61 blocks on 68 plays with 1 holding call (.81)

When did he play poorly?  After a fine preseason, Wagner was awful in relief of Oher for the opener against Denver.  He allowed 2.33 sacks (the most in a game by any Ravens lineman all season) and 2.5 pressures (.53).

What was his signature sequence of 2013?  In the game at Chicago, he reported eligible on the Ravens first drive.  On 2nd and goal at the 1, he was used as a receiver.  Wagner ran a 0 cross, was covered by Bowman, and was the most open receiver, but Flacco threw the ball away.  On 3rd and 1, he pulled right and helped flatten the Bears right side to lead Rice’s 1-yard TD.

What does he need to do better?  All of the concern about Wagner relates to his lack of quickness and ability to pass block.  If he can improve there, it’s not unreasonable to project him as a starter at RT.

Grades:  Play C-, Value B-, Developmental C.  If you were looking for him to step forward and star, it did not happen in 2013, but there is still hope.

 

Marshal Yanda

2013 Role:  Starting RG (1,080 snaps, 100%).  Marshal did not miss a snap, but it was apparent he did not return at full strength from his off-season shoulder surgery.

What was there to like about his season?  He had a strong 2nd half which should leave the offensive line with at least 1 solid starter for 2014.

When did he play best?  In the last 7 games, each of his raw scores was between .85 and .89.  During that stretch he consistently displayed the nasty run-blocking streak which made him one of the NFL’s top guards.

When did he play poorly?  In 2012, Marshal had just one game under .78 (Dallas, .73).  He had 5 games of .75 or lower in 2013.  The worst of those was week 3 versus Houston when he allowed 3.5 pressures, 1/3 of a QH, and a penetration (.68).

What was his signature sequence of 2013?  He had 5 top-shelf blocks on the game-tying drive into the wind at Chicago at the end of regulation.  The best of those came when he pinned Wooton for Oher, then moved to level 2 to pancake Bostic (Q4, 3:17).  That play was a microcosm of the Ravens run problems all season as Pierce failed to follow his block, ran into Oher, and was dropped for a loss of 1.

What does he need to do better?  He was flagged a career-high 7 times in 2013, including 5 false starts and 5 stalled drives.  Some of that may have been lingering effects from the shoulder problems.

Grades:  Play B, Value C+, Developmental C.  Even Yanda’s consistent level of play in the 2nd half may be a permanent concession to age (he’ll turn 30 in September).  He was a distinct notch below his 2012 level of play when he was not party to a sack for the entire season.

 

Game-by-game player grades by position for easier comparison (click to enlarge):

Tackles

Guards

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured, Filmstudy by Ken McKusick. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ken McKusick

Ken McKusick
Ken comes to us via area message boards where he has consistently posted some of the most insightful and memorable posts that you'll find anywhere.  Known as "Filmstudy", Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports who grew up about 1 mile from Memorial Stadium.  He attended...more

5 Raves on “FILMSTUDY: 2013 Offensive Line Analysis

  1. akacrow on said:

    Nice work, maybe Gino can get better in the off season? Gradkowski did show an improved understanding of the overall system, although his technique still needs work, which also had an effect on his poor overall performance, in addition to his lack of size/strength.

    • Tucker: M&T Sec 527 on said:

      He is the incumbent, but based on Ozzie’s State of the Franchise remarks about getting bigger & stronger in the interior line, the team will shop for his replacement in the draft and/or FA. Castillo’s “run game coordination” really put him in a place he hadn’t prepared for, but Harbs says Castillo is staying, so that probably means Gino isn’t. I’m good w/ that, presuming his replacement is an improvement

  2. Mark on said:

    Ken, Shipley was thought by some to have played very well at center for the Colts before coming to the Ravens. Do you have any thoughts as to whether he was, in fact, an effective center for Indy? If he was, could he be a competent reserve interior lineman for the Ravens?

    Of the likely returning Ravens OL, who do you think would be effective in a ZBS ?

    • Filmstudy on said:

      Shipley helped solidify the Colts OL down the stretch in 2012. Those were games I reviewed prior to last year’s Wild Card game. I don’t think he has the size to play guard, however. To me, that means he either has to make the team as the starting center or he’ll be cut.

      The team will bring in a veteran and probably draft a center, but they had a legitimate competition between Shipley and Gradkowski in training camp 2013. Each had some reps with the first team and Gino outplayed AQ.

      Each has failed at their respective position in 2013. Based on the fact that Gino already failed at center and Shipley has played well there for a short period, I’d say he’s the better bet for 2014.

      Of the linemen who are likely to return, Yanda and Monroe should be fine in ZBS, but might be more effective straight ahead. Osemele will be more effective as a straight-ahead pile driver, if healthy. I’m not sure if Wagner can adapt.

  3. walter on said:

    Ken, great stuff. Thanks for sharing this info – gives outsiders a more objective and comprehensive perspective on OL performance and need.

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